African Helix

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carolee1945 wrote
on Feb 22, 2013 3:48 PM

I am going crazy trying to learn this stitch.  It looks so simple, and I am not new to beading.  Can anyone give me hints about success with this stitch????  Do you put the needle over or under the thread between the accent bead and the base beads?  One direction I read said under, another said over.  Also, which thread would be the easiest to work with. I tried heavy duty fireline, fine fireline, nymo, and c-lon.  I am determined to learn this, the pictures look so pretty.

 

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D.M.Z wrote
on Feb 22, 2013 5:21 PM

carolee, well, African Helix is my downfall, but I do have some info for you...... learned the hard way of course. I cannot do it because I cannot hold the tension, imho a person needs at least three hands to accomplish this stitch. That said, a friend of mine that tackled it about the same time I did is wildly successful with it and makes beautiful necklaces in that stitch. Her main trick is to hold the working thread to the mandrel with her hand that is holding the piece until she gathers the next round of beads before doing the loop.....it keeps her tension tight and the work perfect.

If you are following a pattern in a book or where ever, it can be done both ways, one way you work upwards and the other downwards, comes out the same. The main thing is that the thread only loops between two beads, it never goes through a bead more than one time. I saw directions only in one direction and was failing at the stitch, when I found directions that said to go over the thread I figured that was it, I'd do it the other direction and it would work for me. No, my whole problem is the tension as my thread would flip off the correct place and onto the next one and of course that ruins the pattern.  Just as in looming, some start the piece from the top down and some from the bottom up..........whichever way works for you is the right way.

Depending on the number of beads in your first round, find a straw or knitting needle of the right diameter and put that work onto it. 

The "right" thread very much depends on the size of the beads used. The pattern I was trying to accomplish used 8/o and 11/o beads and I worked it with Nymo D waxed. This was the pattern that I liked so much that I ended up trying it in netting, peyote, brick, and Russian Spiral. Each one of those made it look different, but I ended up making about 8 swatches (tubes actually) before I figured out how to make African Helix work in Russian Spiral. The difference is that in R.S. you do go through a bead and not just loop over it. 

Keep working on it, it IS a gorgeous stitch and it makes a lovely soft flexible tube when done right. Donna

 

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carolee1945 wrote
on Feb 23, 2013 8:54 AM

Oh, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your reply.  I have been able to master every other stitch, even right angle weave and herringbone, which are a bit tricky. But THIS ONE.  Yes, I thought because I was coming from the bottom, that was the problem. So, I switched to coming over the top.  I thought it was the thread, so I tried five different types of thread.  I broke two needles trying to have tight tension. I used the pencil for a support, and then tried a wooden dowel. I am close to giving up.   What really makes me frustrated is the magazine giving out directions so blithely. As if it were so easy to do. Why don't the authors of these articles point out how incredibly important the tension is and what difficulties may happen??  One author said it did make a difference if you come up from the bottom or over the top of the thread.  She said by going over the top you create this lovely raised ridge effect and had pictures to prove it. She said if you do the bottom way, you won't get that.  Thank you for telling me that you could not do it either.  I wonder why some people can do it??? Your description of your friend holding the working thread so tightly is something I may do. I may give it one last try before I give up totally.  I will let you know.

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carolee1945 wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 12:21 PM

Finally got it, had to use 8 pound fire line, and be very careful with dowel.  Kept the stitching close to the top and stabbed downwards into it while holding the stitch that came before.  Cannot believe something that looks so simple should be so difficult.

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D.M.Z wrote
on Feb 25, 2013 1:21 PM

I am so very glad you accomplished it........... it makes up into such a divine, soft, supple necklace, a lovely stitch to add to your "inventory" of talents. 

The bracelet I made had the raised ridge of beads, I really wanted that effect and only by using a slightly larger bead was I able to get the look of the African Helix pattern. Even working it in Russian Spiral it was a bit too soft for my taste and it was stretchy too, so first I anchored it with a wire core and wrapped the wire core with several rounds of microfiber, then threaded the actual beading onto it and finished it off. It looks and wears just like the pattern in the book, but it would have been much simpler to just have done it in African Helix............ It's the top bracelet, from Carol Huber Cypher's Mastering Beadwork book. 

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